Given the current political climate, going home for the holidays this year will add another layer of stress and intensity.
Being around our family during the holidays can make us feel drained and depleted. Especially if mild conversations about politics turn into heated battles that leave us feeling like a shamed child wanting to go to our room.
It’s no surprise then that our inner Grinch comes out around everyone’s agendas and trips. We might feel like a teenager all over again—fighting to be heard or rescuing the person being attacked or following whatever our family dynamic was growing up.
But there’s a silver lining to all the holiday family drama. For anyone who’s into personal growth and empowerment, the holidays are the perfect time to “practice” and “train” in the art of being ourselves.
If we can maintain our personal integrity during and in spite of all the drama, we know we have grown and matured quite a bit. It’s a good test.
So, here’s my challenge to all of the growth peeps out there…
Let’s see if we can be totally true to ourselves and have a good time this holiday season. Or be true to ourselves and have a sh*tty time, but not expect or want anything different.
Either way, here are seven tips to guide the growth-mindset-oriented person how to have a more restful and enjoyable holiday break:
- Before going home, have a context for yourself. Treat this time with your family as an important dojo, a training ground to get stronger.
- No victims. No one likes to be around victim energy. Instead of complaining and whining about your family, take 100 percent responsibility. It’s always up to the most emotionally mature person in the family to set the tone and frame for the weekend. When we don’t do this, we’re allowing less mature people to dictate that context.
- Choose your battles by setting boundaries—ahead of time and during the time spent with your family. This is simply us taking good care of ourselves. If we don’t want to do that thing everyone is doing, no need to allow the family peer pressure to suck us into it. Stay home and take a nap instead. Let’s be upfront and let our family members know what works for us and what doesn’t. Call time-outs when necessary. Conserve your energy by picking only the battles you want to fight, and relax and watch the fireworks the rest of the time.
- If we have a partner, let’s have his or her back. Don’t throw them under the bus and join with the family sarcasm about them. Protect them.
- Choose to understand them. Their world, their reality, their values. Let’s stop expecting the conversation to come back to us and be about us. Just assume the family doesn’t want to know everything about you, therefore they won’t ask. That’s okay. Stop making that a problem. Take a genuine interest in them instead.
- Blame and judge them quietly. What? That’s right. Let’s go in the other room and write down what we judge about certain family members. We’re doing it anyway and so are they. But here’s the deal—we judge them quietly as a way to try to understand our judgments and get underneath them. This way, we use our judgments to get empowered and learn more about why people bother us so much.
- Love them as they are. But didn’t I just say to judge them? Yes, the only way to learn how to love our family as they are, is to first get curious about our hidden judgments and projections so we can own them. By owning our judgments of them, and seeing that we are no different from them, we can extend our heartfelt love toward them just as they are. Our family members are no different than us; at the end of the day, they just want to feel loved and accepted too. This can be difficult to do, especially if we have never learned this skill. So, take a course, go to therapy, or find a guide that can show you how you are stuck in a rough spot with a family member and see if you can learn to love them right where they are.
Okay, go practice and report back!
Now, if you want a deeper cut on all the six steps, just download this podcast episode here where I unpack much more context about going home for the holidays and navigating the inevitable family drama.
Author: Jayson Gaddis
Image: Love and Marriage/YouTube
Editor: Katarina Tavčar